The fine given to Wanstead Hairdresser’s for putting chairs on the pavement has angered Wanstead people so much a petition has been started.

Redbridge officials gave the £100 fine, first reported here in Wansteadium, to the Woodbine Place shop just after lockdown was eased when demand for haircuts was at a high. The chairs were put outside so that customers didn’t have to cram on to the benches inside, or stand for a long time outside. A lot of the shop’s customers are elderly.

The story appeared on Monday night on BBC London News, in which Redbridge gave the following response:

“It’s important there is a level playing field for businesses in the borough as it would be unfair for those that have paid for a [pavement] licence if we simply turned a blind eye to those that hadn’t, and it’s also essential we ensure the public highway is kept free of any obstructions.”

Redbridge statement, via BBC London News

In Wansteadium’s humble opinion this statement misses the point in a couple of key ways.
* Firstly there’s no reason why an informal warning to Paul – and the others shops who were fined – wouldn’t have achieved the same result of a level playing field.
* Secondly, yes, the public highway needs to be kept clear, but HELLO? Ever heard of SOCIAL DISTANCING? Is that not important too?

A waiving of the fine would demonstrate that, having made their point about playing fields and highways, this was not just a chance for Redbridge to make some quick money.

A petition has now been started in support of Paul. It’s available here.

Several Wanstead shops and cafes have been fined by Redbridge Council for making socially distanced space for customers on the pavements outside their shops.

They include the much-loved Wanstead Hairdressers on Woodbine Place – a shop which has been trading in this location for decades without problems.

When barbers were allowed to reopen after lockdown, everyone needed haircuts. Owner Paul Michaelides installed Perspex barriers separating the seats inside where customers wait in turn, and he also put some well-spaced chairs directly outside his shop where more people could wait safely. It all seemed pretty sensible.

However, Redbridge inspectors took photographs of the seats and issued £100 fines for the infringement. Other shops on the High Street which had reacted to the new need for social distancing faced similar actions.

Paul said: “Everyone needed a haircut after the lockdown, and we wanted people to be able to queue safely – we were doing the responsible thing when everyone is trying to keep their distance from each other. We have quite a few elderly customers and didn’t want to make them stand outside waiting.

“To get a fine without even being warned by the officer that we were doing something wrong was particularly annoying.”

Paul has appealed against the fine.

A new sign has gone up at Boots on Wanstead High Street – but it is in such a clear violation of Redbridge’s rules for street signs in this area that it’s hard to believe it can last for long.

The longstanding rule for Wanstead High Street is that shop signs are not allowed to have “internal illumination” – ie they can be lit by spotlights shining on them, but they must not have lights inside them. Often these rules are somewhat ignored – particularly by small shops – but generally are observed by companies big enough to know there are rules about street signs.

The new sign, installed last week and pictured above, is quite tasteful, frankly, but it clearly has lights on inside it. So the question is – will Redbridge turn a blind eye to it? And if it does, will that mean a free-for-all for other shops?

(PS. To anyone who think Wansteadium has an obsession with street signs, you’re probably right. But we don’t care.)

In spite of hard times for many traders, there is a plan for a cheese, charcuterie and wine bar in the former Martin & Co offices at the Snaresbrook end of the High Street. Reports are that the bar could open as soon as September.

Ted Kessler, the celebrated Wanstead journalist who until this week edited Q Magazine, has been showered with internet praise after announcing that that the publication was to close.

He tweeted that coronavirus had forced the closure, though it’s hardly a secret that times have been hard for all sorts of print publications in recent months and years.

Ted tweeted:

Messages of support came from the great and good – film critic Mark Kermode, author Stuart Maconie, comedian Al Murray and many others – which you can read in full here.

In 2015 Ted interviewed John Cryer as part of the Wanstead Fringe.

We wish him and his former colleagues all the best in their next moves.

We asked earlier this week if anyone was missing a smart-looking bike which had been recovered from a would-be thief. It turns out lots of people are missing their bikes – though none of them yet are missing the bike in question which is still unclaimed.

It does make Wansteadium think… if there’s a crime wave for bikes, perhaps a page where people can post details of their stolen bikes, perhaps even including photographs, might be a useful resource. Any views, cyclists of Wanstead?